Gay bishops are OK. That seems to be the message from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who heads the worldwide Anglican Communion.
However, Williams says he’s not “positive” about their having sexual relationships.
The Daily Telegraph quotes Williams as saying in an interview: “There’s no problem about a gay person who’s a bishop. It’s about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe.”
He was asked what was wrong with a homosexual bishop having a partner: “I think because the scriptural and traditional approach to this doesn’t give much ground for being positive about it.”
The whole question of homosexuality – and in particular homosexuality among clergy – has split the Anglican Communion. While some bishops in the UK have even called for religious premises to be permitted for use for same-sex ceremonies, others – notably in African dioceses – have railed against the very existence of homosexuality.
In 2008, a group of Anglican bishops – most of them African – decided to form “a new global network to fight against the preaching of ‘false gospels’ of homosexuality and other ‘immoral’ sexual behaviour,” according to Pink news.
They made their views known in 2008 at a gathering called the Global Anglican future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem, which happened in the same year as the ten-yearly Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion.
Pink News reported at the time:
GAFCON claims that some in the Church “promote a variety of sexual preferences and immoral behaviour as a universal human right”. It claims God’s blessing for same-sex unions is against the biblical teaching on holy matrimony. “In 2003 this false gospel led to the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship.”
Rowan Williams was once thought to be sympathetic towards gay clergy. When he became Archbishop of Canterbury he appeared to concentrate more on keeping the Anglican Communion together, and emphasised the Christian principle of sex only within marriage between a man and a woman.